Older, wiser, wealthier, and wilier. The golden years of your life are when you should enjoy motoring the most.
Being old doesn't have to mean that your best driving years can only be glimpsed through the rear-view mirror. If you're already retired by this time, you're already reaping the fruits of your hard work, and that could mean one less source of stress behind the wheel in a time where everyday traffic can be highly aggravating.
Having senior citizens in the driver's seat also puts them in an ideal position to compare what it's like between then and now. They also have unmatched experience and, as a result, are generally regarded as safer drivers or at least have lower rates of car accidents than their younger counterparts.
While age is just a number, senior citizens are not immune to the effects of time. That said, their rich life experience is best complemented by cars that take their circumstances into account. Vehicles that are well-designed, easy to use, and have a decent amount of kit when it comes to safety.
Attributes such as attractive design, performance, and fuel economy are sound criteria. But when drivers reach a certain age, there's a lot more to consider. Flashy styling will often have to take a backseat to function, although finding a car that offers both is not impossible.
The main concerns are safety and comfort, so senior drivers can sit back and focus on what's beyond the windshield.
A low-slung sports car with flamboyant doors may have been the ticket during your younger years, but aching bones and sore joints now call for something significantly more practical. Things like generous door openings (not necessarily suicide doors) and seats at or near hip level ensure that an elderly driver can enter and exit the car without problems.
Having the best seat in the house is advantageous in two ways. First, older drivers have a commanding view of the road. Second, other road users can easily spot them driving by. Of course, a high seating position means little if the surrounding glass gives a limited field of view, so a large greenhouse matched with a low beltline (as far as the vehicle's design allows) is also required.
Other features can also help with this. For instance, automatic headlights and daytime running lights enhance visibility in various conditions. Seniors are as vulnerable to headlight glare as the rest of us when driving at night, so rearview mirrors that automatically dim in response to high beams from behind are much appreciated.
Those in their prime might think nothing of contorting themselves like a pretzel to achieve the ideal driving position, but it's a different story when age kicks in.
All that stooping, bending, and reaching might result in more trips to the chiropractor than necessary. That's why steering columns offering tilt and telescopic adjustments are a godsend.
The fewer things a senior driver needs to be mindful of beyond the steering wheel, pedals, and the road ahead, the better. That means automatic transmissions, automatic climate control, smart keys (having remote start is a bonus), large voice-activated touchscreens, and power-adjustable seats with memory functions.
Larger vehicles also benefit from a hands-free liftgate, and carmakers are already developing models that can be opened and locked using biometric information such as fingerprints.
Being physically more vulnerable in their advanced years, senior drivers understandably place an even more significant premium on safety. Airbags, ABS brakes, traction control, a reverse camera, and hill start assist are already standard on 99% of new vehicles.
Driver-assist features such as forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and a 360-degree camera significantly improve safety for everyone on board. A parking assistant is also a joy if freedom of movement is a problem.
Senior folks don't have a shortage of options when selecting their ideal ride, which all boils down to their particular needs and requirements. Of course, no single vehicle will readily meet all the essentials, so it all boils down to shopping around and finding out which model ticks most boxes. It's still where the fun in buying a car lies, no matter what age you're in.
Here are 10 of the most recommended cars for seniors, whether they're taking command of the driver's seat or just tagging along for the ride.
The Toyota Camry is the eighth generation of the current global model. It's a stylish vehicle, but there's so much more to this top-seller than just a stately exterior. It has 100.4 cubic feet of passenger volume, padded seats, and superb noise insulation, resulting in quiet and comfortable progress.
A total of 10 airbags come with various driver-assist safety features. At the same time, the available hybrid powertrain doesn't disappoint in terms of fuel efficiency, reaching up to 52 miles per gallon on the combined cycle.
The 2023 Toyota Camry starts at $26,220.
Also a strong contender in the midsize sedan category, the all-new Honda Accord comes with a refreshed interior and updated tech, including voice-activated climate control. Top-end models get a 10-way power-adjustable driver's seat and seat heating for the front occupants. The rear seats are suitable for taking the grandkids on a weekend trip to the mall or on a road trip.
The Honda Sensing safety suite is standard on all trims, and the engine options are flexible with either a 1.5-liter turbocharged inline-four or a 2.0-liter version with a dual-motor hybrid setup.
Pricing for the 2023 Honda Accord starts at $27,295.
It's not a high-riding vehicle, but the Subaru Legacy has a symmetrical all-wheel drive, which should put senior drivers at ease when encountering rainy or snowy driving conditions. Both four-cylinder Boxer engine options don't necessarily offer the quickest acceleration. Still, the Legacy makes up for it with a solid ride with standard active torque vectoring, Vehicle Dynamics Control, and fully independent suspension.
Subaru EyeSight safety tech is standard across the range, with options such as a blind-spot monitor, rear-cross traffic alert, and lane change assist to reduce the chances of a fender-bender.
The 2023 Subaru Legacy starts at $24,395.
South Korea fields the Hyundai Sonata as its contender in the midsize sedan category. Another solid choice, the Sonata comes with styling that's modern without being too radical for senior tastes. The interior easily accommodates five occupants with a choice of lighter fabric upholstery or more premium-feeling leather trim, while the available 10.3-inch touchscreen makes navigational prompts easy to see and understand.
LED exterior lighting, such as the automatic headlights, is standard, enhancing the Sonata's visibility. Plus, it offers a selection of three combustion engines and two hybrid powertrains. The 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty is another bonus.
The 2023 Hyundai Sonata starts at $24,950.
The Honda CR-V is in its sixth generation, sporting a more angular design giving it a statelier appearance. As a compact crossover, the CR-V promises a generous ride height while delivering sedan-like driving dynamics, which senior buyers are bound to appreciate.
That's not counting the expansive interior with three-row seating, dual-zone automatic climate control, and high-quality trim. Adaptive cruise control and Traffic Jam assist reducing the likelihood of cramped legs on long drives, while an automatic transmission makes changing gears a breeze.
The 2023 Honda CR-V starts at $31,610.
The Kia Telluride's primary advantage for senior drivers is size, being the largest in the automaker's lineup. But it can also be a drawback when maneuvering the vehicle in traffic. To that end, the Telluride is equipped with various driver aids, including lane-departure warning, lane-following assist, and Highway Driving Assist to serve as helping hands for older drivers.
Given the Telluride's dimensions, both passenger and cargo space are generous. The standard V6 engine puts out 291 horsepower for respectable performance. Even better, the Telluride can be linked with the Kia Access mobile app to help an absent-minded driver locate the vehicle at a parking lot.
The 2023 Kia Telluride starts at $35,890. But if you're a senior citizen that loves the idea of an EV, you might want to take a look at the EV9. It's basically the Telluride's all-electric brother.
The Toyota Sienna is going on its third year with hybrid engines exclusively making up its powertrain selection, which takes care of the efficiency side. As a minivan, the Sienna boasts 193.2 cubic feet of interior volume, ensuring senior occupants never feel cramped wherever the drive takes them. This is made even better by the dual hands-free power sliding side doors and liftgate.
Power from the three hybrid engines on offer is routed to either the front wheels or an optional all-wheel-drive system via an automatic gearbox, while active driver aids include forward collision warning and lane tracing assist.
The 2023 Toyota Sienna starts at $36,135.
Another model worth considering is the Nissan Murano, soldiering on despite its third generation being long in the tooth. After all, Nissan launched the midsize crossover with an eye towards empty nesters, so this should be on older drivers' lists. Standard LED lighting and adjustable steering can be enhanced with 10-way power adjustment on the zero gravity driver's seat to reduce fatigue further.
The lone engine option is a 3.5L gasoline V6, utilizing a continuously variable transmission and optional all-wheel drive. Bluetooth connectivity and voice commands lessen distractions on the road.
The 2023 Nissan Murano starts at $33,660.
The biggest news is that the Chevrolet Trailblazer has a very affordable price tag relative to the competition, starting at $22,100. That leaves a lot of wiggle room for seniors to upgrade in terms of trim level to get more standard equipment, including cruise control, proximity key, and push-button start for convenience.
The 137-hp base 1.2L turbocharged three-cylinder engine tends to fall short during more spirited drives, especially with a continuously variable transmission sending power to the front wheels. A slightly more potent 1.3L version packing 155 hp comes with the all-wheel drive version.
The 2023 Chevrolet Trailblazer starts at $22,100.
As polarizing as its design is, the Honda HR-V has plenty to offer senior buyers. There's the Honda Sensing safety package right out of the gate, offering adaptive cruise control, traffic-sign recognition, and forward collision warning, among other features. Available options include blind-spot monitoring, front and rear parking assist, and heated front seats to keep senior users toasty on cold weather romps.
There's also a surprising amount of room despite the government erroneously classifying the HR-V as a small station wagon. Even better, the HR-V gets the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's nod as its Top Safety Pick+ for 2023.
The 2023 Honda HR-V starts at $23,800.
Okay, so you've spent a lifetime working hard, and you purchased one of the cars on the list above for your daily needs. It doesn't deliver the thrills you seek, insurance is giving you a hard time, or your significant other is scared of anything with more than 500 horses. And a Corvette drop-top is just so predictable.
But just because you're on the old side doesn't mean you have to give up on life. And you've put 2.5 kids through school and college, so you deserve a treat.
The Miata is the perfect weekend treat. Heck, it's the perfect daily treat now that you don't have any responsibilities.